Tips for Upcycling Your Wardrobe
Cut it, sew it, dye it—even wear it upside down. The experts in upcycling offer tips for breathing cool into a tired closet.
Did your wardrobe make a few new acquisitions during the holiday season? Far be it from us to discourage shopping, one of our favourite pastimes, but if you’re starting to feel a little overwhelmed by the state of your closet and are considering scaling back on new purchases for a month or so, consider this: In the average woman’s wardrobe, say surveyors at QVC U.K., are 22 pieces of clothing that have never been worn. (Men are nearly as guilty, with 19 pieces.) Why not give those garments a new lease on life? If it’s ho-hum style that’s keeping them in the closet, try these upcycling tips from TRAIDremade, the in-house fashion brand of the U.K. group TRAID, which works to fight poverty and protect the environment through garment reuse.
Dress up your flats.
Whether they’re leather, fabric or synthetic, those plain black flats could likely use an update. A quick and easy way to add your own personal touch is to clip on colourful pompoms. For a more elegant or evening look, try fastening an antique brooch to the shoe upper. Centre it or even offset it slightly towards the outer edge of the shoe.
Dip-dye your denim.
Modernise or rehab old jeans by chopping them down to cool summer shorts. You can fray the edges or even change the colour of the garment. “At TRAIDremade, we’re adding interest to denim by dip-dyeing,” says Leigh McAlea, head of communications for the organisation. “You can use bleach or coloured dye, depending on the look you want.” McAlea also suggests trying out dip-dyeing or tie-dyeing on button-front shirts: “These techniques really suit very classic pieces and shapes.”
Revamp your cashmere.
As much as we love cashmere, moths tend to love it more. Rehab moth-eaten cashmere cardigans or sweaters using an appliqué process: Sew interesting fabric shapes or textured patches onto the garment, covering the imperfections. If you have an oversized sweater, “try wearing it upside down,” says McAlea. With the neck around your waist, put your arms through the armholes and drape or pin the hemline to your liking. “You get interesting folds through the neck and shoulders, and a nice drape through the back.”
Re-button your blazers.
Blazers and tailored jackets are wardrobe staples that can be hard to part with. Extend the life cycle of these older pieces by updating the buttons. Trade in metal blazer buttons for leather knots, or plastic buttons for classic glass options.
Still want to shop? Browse the upcycled styles created by TRAIDremade designers. You can also bring new-to-you high-end fashions into your life sustainably by turning to a source like web-based Byronesque. The creative new site offers authentic vintage designer fashions—think Lanvin, Vivienne Westwood, Issey Miyake—plus a contemporary editorial point of view to go along with them.